Setting Odds for Oakland Raiders Signing Their Top 7 Free Agent Targets
With the kind of salary cap space the Oakland Raiders will have available this offseason, they should have no trouble re-signing the players they want, as well as competing for other free agents on the open market.
Much of the attention will go to which players they are in the market for from other teams, but an important focus will be on re-signing their own key players beforehand.
With some mutual interest between the team and the majority of their own free-agent players, again, there shouldn’t be many issues in doing so.
The odds are far less favorable when it comes to spending on the open market, but the potential payoff in added impact is significant.
Here are the odds for the Oakland Raiders signing each of their top seven free-agent targets this offseason.
LT Jared Veldheer
Over his four years in the league, Jared Veldheer has established himself as one of the Raiders’ best overall players, and one they certainly will look to build around moving forward.
He has publicly voiced his frustrations with the pace of contract talks of late, but there is still plenty of time for both sides to come to an agreement on a long-term deal before free agency opens.
While it is possible that talks reach the point where the franchise tag becomes an option, the mutual interest and the Raiders’ favorable salary cap situation should allow for them to get the deal done well beforehand.
The Raiders’ left tackle position was in flux for quite some time before Veldheer joined the team in 2010, and they certainly don’t want to experience that again.
Expect a deal that makes sense for both sides, and one that gets finalized in relatively short order.
DE Lamarr Houston
Like the case of Jared Veldheer, Lamarr Houston has established himself as a cornerstone of the Raiders franchise in his young career, and sees his contract expire this offseason.
Houston’s case is slightly different thus far, as despite wanting to be back with the team, he voiced some doubt as to whether or not they saw him as a fit for their scheme moving forward.
Since, Reggie McKenzie has said just the opposite and confirmed that Houston is one of several players that the team will make a priority to re-sign.
At a position that is among the most valued in the league, Houston would indeed draw plenty of interest should he hit the open market, with the versatility to play a number of positions across the defensive front.
However, with the money the Raiders have available, and what seems like mutual interest, agreeing on a long-term deal should not be an issue.
RB Rashad Jennings
After injuries continued to sideline Darren McFadden in 2013, Rashad Jennings wasted no time in seizing his opportunity and earning the starting job for the rest of the season.
In just 163 carries, Jennings ran for 733 yards and six touchdowns, eclipsing 100 yards in two different games.
Numbers aside, the running game was noticeably better when Jennings was in the backfield, and he seems to be quite a good fit for the Raiders’ offensive scheme overall.
Whether or not the team sees him as a back capable of carrying the load for the next several of years remains to be seen, but his 2013 performance should have them quite interested in re-signing him either way.
With just five NFL seasons under his belt, and most of which as a backup, Jennings likely comes with much less wear than other running backs at 28 years old.
The chances of these contract talks extending into free agency are slightly higher than those of Veldheer and Houston, but this is another deal the Raiders should get done at some point soon.
FS Charles Woodson
Charles Woodson finishing his career as a Raider has a value to both sides beyond the football field, but the level he played at in 2013 gives the team that much more incentive.
Heading in, it was tough to predict how much longer Woodson would play, but his transition to free safety has been successful, and he could even improve as he continues to get more comfortable at what is still a relatively new spot.
In speaking with the media toward the end of the regular season, Woodson stated his intention to continue playing, and to do so for the Raiders. “If I’m wanted here, I’m coming back”, he said.
In Reggie McKenzie’s media availability, he listed Woodson as one of several players that the team will make priorities to re-sign.
Clearly, the mutual interest is present in this situation as well, and it will just become a matter of working out the numbers.
If Woodson’s intent to play continues, this is yet another deal the Raiders should be able to get done relatively soon.
DE Jared Allen (Minnesota Vikings)
Jared Allen is not the youngest available pass-rusher this offseason, but the consistent production throughout his career, with no signs yet of slowing down, is what should have the Raiders interested most.
Allen would instantly become the Raiders’ best player on defense and would contribute both in the pass and run game as an every-down defensive end.
What’s more, is the leadership figure Allen could be, along with Charles Woodson, on a relatively inexperienced defense overall.
Of course, there will be many other teams in the running for Allen’s services, and a desire to play for a winner at this point in his career could significantly impact his decision on where to sign.
However, if the Raiders can show they are headed in the right direction, and put their salary cap space to good use with a big contract, signing Allen could become a realistic goal.
DE/OLB Brian Orakpo (Washington Redskins)
Again sticking with the need to address the edge rush, one of the other top players set to be available at the spot is Redskins’ DE/OLB Brian Orakpo.
Orakpo is coming off a productive season in Washington, notching 10 sacks in 15 games, thus reaching double digits for the second time in his first five seasons.
At just 27 years old, long having established himself as a productive pass-rusher, he will have many suitors on the open market and is likely to come away with a big contract.
With a need up front, and so much cap space available, the Raiders could realistically compete for him regardless.
However, Orakpo’s young age makes certain that plenty of teams will get involved, thus driving up his price throughout the process. For the Raiders, it will become a matter of willingness to spend that much of their cap space on just one of many glaring needs.
CB Alterraun Verner (Tennessee Titans)
If there ever were a time for the Raiders to address and solidify the cornerback spot in free agency, the deep group of players set to be available would make it this offseason.
Of the several impact players at the position that will become free agents in March, the Titans’ Alterraun Verner should be of the most interest to the Raiders.
Verner is just 25 years old, and signing him to pair with D.J. Hayden long term would make a lot of sense for the rebuilding defense in Oakland.
Verner’s skill set makes him a good fit for the zone coverages the Raiders now favor under their current scheme, as he would have plenty of opportunities to make plays on the ball in coverage.
Like Orakpo, Verner’s young age will see many teams enter the competition for his services, but the number of other cornerbacks available could keep his price tag from getting too expensive.
Either way, with more salary cap space than any other team, the Raiders will have a good chance at signing Verner in free agency, and thus have a solid cornerback tandem in place moving forward.